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Wellness Matters 24.06.2022

Friendship


The theme for North Berwick Coastal Community Connections newsletter for the month of July is Friendship, and is pertinent for my blog today.

During a conversation this week with a very wise friend, Wendy, who I met when we both arrived for an online EMCC accreditation sprint challenge - being delivered in Croatian last year {LOL}, I recounted how not writing this blog for a few weeks had been really hard. On the one hand I felt I had nothing to say, and on the other hand, my end of week routine was missing and with it a sense of reflection, closure and an opportunity to move on. I have been writing a blog and / or newsletter on Fridays for more than 7 years, so it’s fairly well ingrained in me now. Lots of coffee, lots of water, it’s just what Friday means to me.

This blog is a reflection of what has passed, my learning, my thoughts, my ‘takeaways’ from being open, aware and engaged with the world. In contrast, the NBCCC newsletter requires me to be forward thinking and anticipatory. This combined focus and attention to detail has further assisted in becoming unstuck, as I mentioned last week.


I'm thankful that the NBCCC theme for July is Friendship, giving me credence to call on my reflections from learning and personal experience, to add my small voice to the wider team. All relationships need nurturing in order to grow, and should be attended to with love and care, like a vulnerable seedling, watered with empathy and kindness.

This includes the relationship we have with ourselves.

As we grow older, we invariably change our place of work, we embark on new learning, develop interests and hobbies, and might seek new challenges, to stimulate and motivate us. We might become ill, lack energy, or become despondent, and all these changes can enhance and improve friendships, or create a barrier, depending on our response.


During EASE training this week we were put into groups of 3 and participated in an Active

Listening activity. We had been asked to prepare a short talk on something we were familiar and comfortable with, and each took a turn to be speaker, listener and observer.

Feedback from the observers was unanimous: when consciously actively listening, attention was focused on what was actually said. Observer facial expressions mirrored the speaker’s amusement, sadness and inquiry, all the while encouraging the speaker to continue. There was no interruption.

Too often we fall into the habit of ‘I talk, you ‘listen’, you talk, I ‘listen’’ but are we really listening? Are we asking questions for clarity and understanding? Are we inviting our friend to say more or looking for the gap that allows us to interject with what we intend to share? Too often, there is little sense of an evolving conversation, because we don’t actively listen.


Try it when you meet up with a friend, no matter how well you know them. Allow for silence, and try saying: tell me more about that, and be prepared to really listen. Don’t interrupt. Active listening is a skill many of our relationships would benefit from.


When catching up with a friend, give them thinking space, recount what they say, ask for more detail and if your turn doesn’t come to say much, don’t worry, you have cemented your friendship by giving of yourself. Your friend will feel listened to.


My dear friend, Jo, offered to be a listening ear recently, and at the time I responded with:


Sometimes I don’t really know what to say.

Sometimes I just need to let it out,

Sometimes without hesitation or interruption.

Sometimes with lots of deviation.

Sometimes it feels good to talk.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes I don’t want to be fixed.

Sometimes I do.

Sometimes I need to be clear about what I want from you,

Sometimes, when we talk - can I do that?

Sometimes - will you do that too?


Pay close attention, and for more tender guidance, I recommend Kathryn Mannix Listen and I will continue to recommend this book until we are all listening effectively.


Images from my morning walk through Lodge Grounds and above Coo's Green today. After the rain last night, the petrichor was astounding: garlic, roses, earth, elderflower and grass, creating a welcome assault on my senses.


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